The Lions are headed back to the playoffs and they could wind up as the NFC North champions if they beat the Packers for the second time this season, but coach Jim Caldwell feels that one member of the team isn’t getting enough credit for his work in lifting the Lions to the top of the standings.
Caldwell’s choice for an undervalued player is quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford is coming off a rocky game against the Bears and his yards per game are down sharply, but he’s also posted his highest completion percentage since 2011 and is posting the lowest full-season interception rate of his career. He’s also thrown for more than 4,000 yards for the fourth straight season while absorbing a career high in sacks, which is among the reasons why Caldwell thinks Stafford deserves more love in Detroit.
“I think there’s a lack of appreciation for him around here, I think, at times,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “Let me just tell you something: He’s a man’s man. He’s a tough guy. He gets hit out there every single ballgame, he hangs in there, and there may be one he’d like to have back, but then there’s a couple others, or one other that’s probably not all his fault.”
The Lions offense hasn’t been as prolific this season as it’s been in past years, although the drop in the productivity of the run game has been much starker than what’s gone on with Stafford and the aerial attack. Wherever things have gone wrong, though, the Lions have found a way to win and that’s something they haven’t been able to do in past years. They need that more than eye-popping numbers from Stafford, although the latter wouldn’t hurt their chances of winning at Lambeau Field this weekend.